Carroll key to Hammers win
West Ham 1 Swansea 0
Andy Carroll gave his team’s fight against relegation a much-needed shot in the arm as West Ham edged past Swansea to record just their second win of 2013.
Making his first start since November, Carroll proved to be an effective battering ram for the Hammers and their long-ball tactics.
Sam Allardyce’s men regularly launched the ball up to the England striker and while it was not easy on the eye, the tactic worked.
The former Newcastle man wore down the Swansea defence and stole away from his marker towards the end of the second half to head home Mark Noble’s corner for just his second goal in claret and blue.
Swansea, for all their pretty football, only sprung to life when Carroll’s goal went in and Michu had a rare off-day playing on his own up front.
The Hammers are by no means assured of safety, but Allardyce will sleep better knowing their six-match winless streak has now come to an end.
The Hammers boss will also be pleased his team recorded their first clean sheet since December 16.
Allardyce’s men are now nine points above the relegation zone ahead of a tough run of fixtures against the likes of Stoke, Tottenham, Manchester United and Chelsea.
West Ham’s plan to hit Carroll became apparent from the off. Winston Reid lumped the ball up to the big striker in the fourth minute, he knocked it down to Kevin Nolan but he shot wide.
West Ham’s physical approach gave them the edge in midfield, but Ricardo Vaz Te overdid it at one point, putting in a dangerous sliding tackle on Wayne Routledge that earned him a booking.
Swansea had the majority of possession but West Ham were the most dangerous team.
Carroll found space after dropping deep and laid the ball off to Mohamed Diame, who drew a good save from Gerhard Tremmel.
Tremmel was called into action soon after, saving Nolan’s shot with his feet.
Pablo Hernandez embarrassed Matt Taylor with a series of twists and turns before sneaking into the box, but the former Bolton man tracked back to block his shot.
West Ham continued to punt the ball long. Swansea found it hard to deal with Carroll, who knocked a Vaz Te pass into the path of Nolan, who drew a top save from Tremmel.
The visitors went in level at half-time but only thanks to Tremmel, who once again pulled off a top-draw save to deny Vaz Te.
West Ham started the second half as they ended the first. A clever backheel from Matt Jarvis released Nolan, who pulled the ball back for Carroll but he blazed over.
West Ham’s fans became annoyed at their failure to score. Hernandez then caused them even more angst with a long-range free-kick that Jussi Jaaskelainen did well to save.
Allardyce looked to Joe Cole for inspiration, the former Liverpool man coming on for the ineffective Matt Jarvis.
It looked as if the Hammers were destined to fail. Swansea’s defence held strong and the home side continued to waste their chances.
Diame was the next to blunder, almost finding the second tier of the Bobby Moore stand with an awful shot from yet another Carroll knock down.
Another chance came and went moments later. Again Diame was the culprit, clearing Tremmel’s goal when unmarked in the box.
Referee Lee Probert then failed to award the Hammers a penalty when Vaz Te’s shot struck the arm of Chico Flores.
After missing so many chances, there was a huge sense of relief when Carroll finally broke the deadlock.
The England striker lost Ashley Williams in the Swansea box and leapt high before powering Mark Noble’s corner past Tremmel.
Swansea looked for an immediate response. The Welsh side threw everything at the home goal, but Jaaskelainen was up to the challenge, putting in two vital stops in quick succession from Ki Sung-Yueng and Ben Davies.
Swansea continued to push for an equaliser but it never came.